By TOPE TEMPLER OLAIYA
Six years after a Nigerian 18-seater Dornier 228 Air Force transport plane, carrying 15 senior army officers and three crewmembers crashed leaving only three survivors that sustained serious injuries on September 17, 2006, 2012 will go down in history as the year that recorded the most recurrence of plane crashes in the country since the first recorded incident, which happened on January 22, 1973, when Royal Jordanian Airlines flight 707, carrying 171 Nigerian Muslims returning from Mecca crashed in Kano, killing five crewmen.
Though air transportation is seen as the fastest and safest of the three forms of transportation; water, land and air, but it is not short of its disasters.
The first of five crashes that threw the country into national mourning this year was on Wednesday, March 14, when a helicopter conveying the newly promoted Deputy Inspector General of Police, Haruna John, with three other senior police officers crashed in Jos. The Police helicopter was to convey the officers from Jos to Abuja, and took off from the Jos prison field. However, after one and half kilometer of flight, it crashed into a house where the occupants were said to have escaped before the planed finally crash landed.
Just before Sunday, June 3, when the nation was thrown into mourning again as a Dana Airlines Flight 9J 992 carrying 153 passengers on board crashed into Iju-Ishaga, a densely populated residential area of Lagos, killing all passengers on board, a Nigerian cargo plane, attempting to take off from the Kotoka International Airport in Accra, Ghana, crashed few hours earlier on Saturday night, killing 10 people and injuring an unspecified number of others. The plane smashed through the airport’s fence before slamming into cars and a bus loaded with passengers on a nearby street.
Four months after, precisely October 25, governor of Taraba State, Danbaba Suntai and five of his aides narrowly escaped death when a Cessna 208 aircraft marked 5N-BMJ and was piloted by Suntai, reportedly lost contact with the Yola Control Tower 38 miles to landing, after leaving Jalingo, the Taraba State capital and crashed into a hill in Adamawa.
Just when the nation thought they had seen an end to air crashes for 2012, the nation was jolted with the news of four persons, including Governor Patrick Yakowa of Kaduna State and former National Security Adviser to the president, General Owoeye Azazi, who were reportedly burnt in a helicopter crash that occurred in the forest of Okoroba community in Nembe local government of Bayelsa State.
HERE is a chronicle of some recent plane crashes in Nigeria.
December 10, 2005 – A Nigerian Sosoliso Airlines DC-9 crashes in Port Harcourt, killing all 103 on board. Most on board were school children going home for Christmas.
October 22, 2005 – A Nigerian Bellview Airlines Boeing 737 airliner with 117 people on board crashes and disintegrates in flames shortly after take-off from Lagos. All on board killed.
May 4, 2002 – Nigerian EAS Airlines’ BAC 1-11-500 with 105 people on board crashed and burst into flames in a poor, densely populated suburb of Kano killing 76 on board and 72 on the ground, a total of 148 dead.
November 7, 1996 – A Nigerian ADC (Aviation Development Corporation) Airline Boeing 727-231 flying from Port Harcourt to Lagos with 142 passengers and nine crew members crashed on landing, plunging into a lagoon with all on board killed.
November 13, 1995 – Nigeria Airways Boeing 737-2F9 crashes on landing in Kaduna killing nine.
June 24, 1995 – Harka Air Services Tupolev 34 crashes on landing in Lagos killing 16.